Prepping Basics: 20 Mistakes You Should Stay Away From

“Prepping is easy,” said no one ever. 

When you become a prepper, you’re signing yourself up for a lot.

We’re talking about everything from prepping basics like squireling away food and having a well-stocked first aid kit to the more advanced preps like building an underground bunker.

It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Along the way, some mistakes will be made. But that’s part of the learning process.

In this article, we discuss the errors that can affect your prepping game. Let’s get right to it:

Top Prepping Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Preppers have all committed blunders at some time, whether they’re new to prepping or not. These mistakes can cost time, money, and effort.

To avoid repeating history, here’s a list of the most common snafus and what to do about them:

Not Preparing Enough Water

Sometimes, folks forget that the water they’re prepping for isn’t just for drinking. You also need water to cook, wash clothes, bathe, and brush your teeth…you get the drift.

The old saying that you need one gallon of water per person per day IS true—if you’re only talking about drinking water. You’ll have to store more for other uses. On the off chance that you run out of space, you can try collecting water and filtering it.

Relying Only on the Internet for Information

The internet’s an excellent source of information, but not everything you read online is legit. Plus, it’ll be useless when the power goes out.

Nothing beats good old survival books. They don’t just give you something to do when you’re bored. They’ll also teach you prepping basics like how to forage for food in the wild, build a fire from scratch, and treat all kinds of wounds. No WiFi or electricity needed.

Prepping for Only One Kind of Disaster

Sure, your area’s more prone to flooding than other disasters. But that doesn’t mean you should only be prepping for floods.

Catastrophes can happen anytime, and they often do so without caring whether you’re prepared or not. Are you equipped to handle things if a serious storm hits your community tomorrow? If you’re not, you better start doing something about it now.

Focusing on Gathering Survival Supplies Than on Building Skills

While we can’t deny the importance of having an arsenal of supplies, it’s stupid to stake your life on them. What happens if they get destroyed in a fire, or if you’re not at home to use them?

Make sure that you don’t depend too much on your gear. The way to do that is to focus more on learning prepping basics like purifying water, preserving food you’ve grown yourself, and knowing how to navigate using nature

Neglecting Hygiene and Sanitation

hygiene and sanitation are prepping basics that are sadly overlooked

You can have enough water, food, and gear to keep an entire city and its neighboring towns alive, but if you’re not careful about hygiene and sanitation, you’re as good as toast.

During disasters, diseases can spread and infect folks more easily. This is what makes stashing personal care products like soap, toilet paper, shampoo, and toothpaste so essential in urban prepping.

Not Having a Backup Plan…or Three

When you’re prepping for emergencies, you can’t just stick to a single plan. There’s a high chance it might fail.

You may have been set on bugging in, but what if you can’t even make it home? Or what if you plan on bugging out, but the quickest route to get there is blocked?

There are all sorts of scenarios and possibilities to consider, so have a couple of backup plans in place.  Better yet, get your bug out plan down to a T for a bigger chance of success when bugging out.

Not Doing Drills

It’s a cliché, but experience really is the best teacher. To assess if you and your family are ready for major catastrophes, run drills.

Here are some examples:

  • Camp in the wild while only bringing your bug out bag
  • Travel to your bug out location using multiple routes
  • Don’t use the electricity in your home for a few days
  • Practice your evacuation plans
  • Have each family member demonstrate what to do before, during, and after an earthquake

Having a Limited Variety of Food

New preppers buy tons of beans, rice, and freeze-dried food. That’s great and all, but we’ll be pretty darn horrified if we have to live on those alone.

Besides storing shelf-stable and non-perishable food, make sure to add things that you actually enjoy eating—like peanut butter, M&Ms, and the ingredients for your grandma’s famous chili recipe. This will help you keep your energy levels high and your belly happy.

Overlooking Pets

an old man and his dog staring at each other

Folks love their pets, which makes it a little hard for us to understand why they tend to forget them during their survival prep. Your pets are unquestionably part of the family. Make sure they’ve got their own bug out bag filled with food, water, meds, and a favorite toy.

Being Too Cheap

You don’t have to spend a whole fortune prepping for SHTF, but there are just instances when you have to invest in first-rate survival supplies and gear. Otherwise, if you insist on buying the cheapest multitool available, it’ll likely backfire on you and you’ll end up spending more on a replacement.

Remember, rock-bottom prices can mean rock-bottom quality.

Spilling the Beans

No offense, but you’re a huge idiot if you tell everyone and their mom about your prepping plans. The worst they can do now is laugh, but guess who’ll come knocking on your door when SHTF? Ding ding ding—we got a winner.

Leaving the Family Unprepared

Prepping for disasters should be a family affair. If you’re the only one who knows what to do during a wildfire or EMP attack, then you’re putting everyone else at risk.

Think about it. What if you get separated, or worse, something happens to you? They’ll be doomed.

Now they don’t have to be as hardcore as you are, but the least you can do is ensure they have their own bug out bags, know all the plans, and learn the prepping basics.

Buying Gear Before Researching

Never buy anything without doing your homework first, especially if it’s found online. Yeah, it’ll take a bit of research to find the perfect gear, but wouldn’t you rather know what you’re getting yourself into? Read product descriptions, browse customer reviews, and watch videos of the product in action.

Not Putting Equipment to the Test

You’ve paid top dollar for your equipment, so you should know how to use them. Don’t wait till something happens. As soon as you get that new shovel, figure out how to assemble it, practice using it for what it’s designed to do, and read the darn instructions.

Putting Food in the Pantry and Forgetting About It

When it comes to food, preppers tend to obsess over amassing a huge stash. That’s all and well and good, but they should also be just as devoted to rotating them. Otherwise, most of the food they gathered will end up spoiled and wasted.

You should follow the First In, First Out (FIFO) method with your supplies. Basically, you have to specify the date you store your food and then place the older ones in front so that you use them first. Do this every six months.

Concentrating Solely on SHTF

Hey, Rambo. Before you gear up to wipe out the zombies, why not think a little closer to home and start prepping for the emergencies that are more likely to happen?

We’re not saying that it’s wrong to get ready for TEOTWAWKI. But things like earthquakes, home invasions, and pandemics should be much bigger priorities.

Getting Rid of Things That Can Be Used for Bartering

a rack of clothes

Your old coat may be useless to you, but it may be valuable to someone else. Consider keeping it to barter for something you might need in the future. Check out that closet in your attic. You may not discover Narnia, but you’ll unearth a ton of stuff that folks will find helpful.

Being Unfamiliar with the Neighbors

Don’t know anything about your neighbors besides their last names? Big mistake.

You may be living near shady characters, genuinely nice folks, or a combination of both, so knowing more about them can be used to your advantage. If you get close, you can even form a neighborhood watch against home invaders or barter supplies and skills.

Storing Everything in One Place

Did your pops ever tell you to never put all your eggs in one basket? Well, the old man was right.

When SHTF, you can be anywhere—home, at work, on the road, or in the middle of eating a cheeseburger at your favorite diner.

That means you can’t only have supplies in your pantry. You also need a bug out bag, a get home bag, and a vehicle emergency kit…at a minimum.

Bonus tip: bury a survival cache or two with essential backup supplies in case something happens to your main stockpile. 

Overloading Your Bug Out Bag, Get Home Bag, and EDC

While it’s tempting to pack everything but the kitchen sink inside your bug out bag, you can’t carry it for a long period of time. And that defeats its whole purpose.

The same goes for your get home bag and everyday carry (EDC).

Word of advice: either learn to live with less OR pack multipurpose items like a tarp, paracord, and a compact entrenching tool shovel.

Final Thoughts

It’s normal to make mistakes when you’re starting out. Heck, even the most seasoned preppers had a few slip-ups when they first started prepping for disasters.

What’s important is that you learn from these errors. Keep reading, get better gear, practice your survival skills, inspect your stockpile regularly, and teach your family a thing or two about survival and prepping basics.

Which of these mistakes have you made before? How did you stop making them? Let us know in the comments!

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